2011-06-20

Need for Validation Equals Self-inflicted Pain

Some Honest Introspection

It's clear to me that much of my pain is self-inflicted*. For example, I react to Sergey's logical leaps, and let's be honest, crazy, paranoid assertions, as if they were personal insults. To be more precise, I react to them is if they were insults to my intelligence. I don't know if you'll be able to understand why, but I'll give it a go: When someone, anyone, makes a dramatic statement, claiming for instance that the grass is so tall because of radiation, I like that person to back that statement up with a source -- preferably a reputable one. If that person refuses to, and/or asks me to prove that he or she is wrong what I hear is: "You should believe what I say because I am smarter than you. Furthermore, you're a moron and a tool for believing what everyone else believes. You're stupid, stupid, stooooopid!" 

In Sergey's case this effect is intensified by him rolling his eyes, wiggling his eyebrows, grimacing and trying to discredit what I say with statements dripping with sarcasm, like, "Wikipedia? Then it must be true!"

By now you're certain that what I mean by self-inflicted is repeatedly exposing myself to situations such as discussions with Sergey, but it's not. While Sergey truly is a difficult person, I consider him a close friend who is toeing the line of psychosis. Most, if not all, of my close, personal relationships are plagued by the same problems: I feel disrespected, unheard, invisible, treated with disdain... and, these feelings are not limited to personal relationships, this is how I feel at work, at the doctor's, stuck in a Comcast phone queue, when reading people's rants on Facebook, while listening to the news.

The way I see it there is a two-fold problem: my outlook, and my (urgent! and obsessive) need for retribution.

With outlook, I mean that I expect certain behaviors from other people. Basically, I expect them to be assholes. I usually enter a situation pissed off and exit with a realization of my expectations and even more pissed off. I come off as defensive at best. Ted recently told me that my "hostility can't be very helpful."

Afterwards, I want retribution. It's pretty modest, but usually unattainable: I want my view acknowledged by the offending party. I can't let go. A ridiculous statement by some rapper, whom I happen to follow on Facebook, can leave me rephrasing a biting response for hours, sometimes for days. The same sentence is repeated over and over in my head, until the anger over the original statement has merged with the anger and frustration caused by the regurgitation into some kind of crazy monster. The only way to unstick myself is action: I have to have it out with the other person.

Dealing with this In my personal relationships is difficult. The other person tends not understand why I am "so serious," and is uninterested in a discussion. If I try to explain, either from an emotional perspective (you hurt me) or from an intellectual perspective (I have this OCD-like thing going on) this is usually met with a lack of empathy, ie, it's my problem, in the latter case, it's really, really my problem.  

In all other contexts, at work for example,  dealing with this is almost impossible. I have to struggle to not act out and make a fool of myself, when I feel I have been done wrong, and damage what surely is a precarious position already. Almost every day I have to keep the need for retribution at bay.

It's hard to write this post, because while I know I have these problems, by admitting I do, I expose myself to having these revelations used against me. Often, let's say, Frank or Mike or Ted, have used my "weaknesses" to further invalidate what I have to have say, because by the same principle that you cannot rape a whore, you cannot be easily provoked and have a legitimate reason to be angry in the same time. So, you see, back to problem part one: outlook.

Unfortunately, I have no solution. My dad once told me to "snap out of it," and that's what I hear you say too, although I have to presume if you have read this far it's because you realize it's not that simple to change how you behave. The best I can do, most of the time, is not let it show.

* By which I don't mean that I think it's my fault, although I do sometimes, but let's stick with what I believe intellectually and leave what I believe emotionally until I need to lash out again

1 comment:

  1. It's important to acknowledge our failings, and this post is very brave. I do the biting-retort-in-my-head thing too.

    It's hard to accept that the actions and behaviours of others are not about US, and that we need to take responsibility for our own emotional reactions.

    Very hard.

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